Tom Coburn and waste
A frustrated reader writes:
Ezra, I appreciate the posts about program duplication. I work at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to eliminate duplication and redundancy. As you say, there are a lot of good reasons to have multiple programs. Most homeless people need a housing subsidy. Some homeless people have a mental illness. Some homeless people are kids who need to go to school. Should all of these needs be met with one program? At which department? Do you want HUD to operate an education program? Or should you just make the programs that typically provide these services to people who are not homeless do a better job of serving homeless people? These are all questions we grapple with, and I think we do a good job of identifying the best policy solutions. But here's the thing. We spent years trying reform HUD's homelessness programs to consolidate and streamline in a way that undoubtedly improves efficiency and reduces waste. It had broad support and consensus (cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed and Kit Bond and supported by the Bush Administration). And what was one of the biggest hurdles? A hold by Senator Coburn.
I'm sure Coburn had his reasons for the hold (I'm not sure I'd think them good reasons, but still). Nevertheless, I think this goes back to the warning that the people who should be leading the charge to identify governmental inefficiency are the people whose main interest is making the government work better. My impression of Coburn is that his main interest is making the government smaller, which is different.
| March 2, 2011; 4:37 PM ET
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